ALWAYS Remembering It’s National Service Dog Month (September)

What is a Service Dog? 

September is National Service Dog Month, a time dedicated to educating the public and expressing gratitude for the incredible work service dogs perform daily for the individuals they protect. Become a part of our celebration and awe as we recognize these unique warriors.

A working dog specially trained to aid a person or group with a disability or other special needs is an assistance dog or a service dog.

Service dog

How to Train My Dog to be a Service Dog

When it comes to training your dog to become a service animal, you have two different possibilities. You may teach your dog on your own, or you could enroll them in a program that specializes in training dogs for service work. If you decide to train your dog, consider the following;

  1. Consider your dog’s personality and ability: The unfortunate reality is that not all dogs possess the qualities necessary to function as reliable service dogs. Suppose you currently have a Chihuahua and require a service dog to assist you in getting out of your wheelchair. In that case, it is possible that your Chihuahua is not the best candidate for the job.
  2. The dog you select to act as a support animal must, in addition to being able to fulfill the physical requirements of a service dog, possess the appropriate temperament to execute the job. 
  3. Housetrain your dog: You should begin by house training your dog if you believe your dog is capable of doing the physical responsibilities you require. Your dog should be able to relieve itself when told to do so and in various locations after undergoing this training.
  4. The next step is to expose your dog to new situations. Focus on teaching your dog to pay attention to you alone and disregard distractions. When you master the fundamentals, you can progress to training your dog on how to assist you.

There is a failure rate of 55 to 70 percent for canines enrolled in training programs to become service dogs. The following are some of the characteristics that your service dog will need to have:

  • Maintaining composure in unfamiliar settings.
  • Learning information quickly while retaining it for longer.
  • Being able to adjust to a variety of social settings.
  • Capable of doing certain actions consistently.
  • Capable of concentrating on yourself alone.

Things to Note

  • Legal education is necessary. Several different organizations provide training and certification for service dogs. However, the trained service dog certification does not demonstrate that the dog is a service animal. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not require any certificate or other documentation that your service dog has been through training.
  • Choose to enroll your dog in service dog classes. Because training programs may cost thousands of dollars, getting your money’s worth is essential. Word-of-mouth recommendations and reviews can ensure you and your dog have the best possible experience.
  • Check that you have the answers to two questions. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if it is not immediately apparent that your dog is a service dog, you need to answer two questions. These questions include, “Do you need the dog as a service animal due to the individual having a disability?” and “What kind of job or activity has the dog been under training to complete?” For the dog to be a service dog for mental health and other purposes, you must provide truthful responses to both questions.
  • Make sure everyone understands the registration requirements. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), requiring anyone to register their service animals is unlawful. Any municipality that makes such a statement violates the ADA. Nevertheless, the regional registration and immunization requirements for animals also apply to service animals.
  • It is essential to remember that the ADA places no restrictions on how a dog’s owner chooses to train their pet. Your animal companion can be a service animal as long as it can meet your requirements. While finishing this task might require more training, it doesn’t necessarily have to.

How National Service Dog Month Came About

Dick Van Patten, an actor, and animal enthusiast, came up with the idea to celebrate National Service Dog Month in 2008. Previously, the event’s name was National Guide Dog Month.

The experience of Van Patten at Guide Dogs of the Desert in California was so touching that he decided to start a fundraising effort to support guide and service dog training institutions throughout the United States. What began as a one-time event to raise money for a good cause has become an annual celebration of the incredible work service dogs do. 

Dog training schools not only help create helpers for humans, but they also save the lives of many dogs who would otherwise spend their entire lives confined in shelters if it weren’t for the availability of these schools. The Americans with Disabilities Act extends its protections to dogs trained to assist people with disabilities (ADA).

The Most Common Service Dog Breeds

Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are both excellent choices for working dogs. Retrievers are the breed most commonly trained for service work, with labrador retrievers having a slight numerical advantage over golden retrievers. 

People adore these dogs’ kind and caring nature and that they get along so well with humans and other animals. Retrievers excel in both the physical and emotional challenges they face. They can retrieve goods on demand, gently seize things with their teeth, and guide their handlers around, whether outside or inside. 

The close attachment between a Labrador Retriever and its owner is something that golden retrievers and Labradors share. The following are some other dog breeds that are commonly in use as service dogs:

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are well known for their service as police dogs due to their size and robust build. On the other hand, the same characteristics that make a dog a good police dog also make it a good service dog.

German Shepherds are dogs who are highly clever, loyal, and easy to train. They also create a deep link with the people who are teaching them. The working life is something that many German Shepherds look forward to since it allows them to stay active and provides them the satisfaction of making their owners happy.

Because German Shepherds have such an acute sense of smell, they are ideally suited for various jobs, including checking blood sugar levels. Because of their vast size, they are also well-suited to provide support with movement, either as seeing-eye dogs or as balancing assistance dogs.

Poodle

Full-sized, Standard Poodles are the ideal candidates for work in the service industry. The size of these dogs allows them to assist with a wide variety of physically demanding activities, and their high intellect makes them an excellent choice for working dogs.

There is a common perception that Poodles are straightforward to handle and simple to educate. They thrive on adversity and take pleasure in putting in hard work. The vast majority of poodles are calm canines with outgoing personalities. 

The Poodle’s hypoallergenic fur is one of the unique advantages of having a Poodle as a service dog. The average Poodle sheds significantly less fur and dander than other breeds of dog.

Pomeranian

Pomeranians are excellent mental support dogs despite their diminutive size because of their ability to fit easily into patients’ homes. They are not likely to help guide or provide assistance with balance, although they can recover small items. 

Because most Pomeranians are highly attentive to the requirements of their owners, this breed is an excellent option for those who suffer from various psychiatric illnesses.

When you don’t require a large dog for physical assistance, a Pomeranian is an intelligent and trainable dog that excels at psychological aid tasks. Because of their diminutive size, it is simple to carry them with you at all times to receive emotional support from them.

Boxer

Boxers have the potential to excel as service dogs for a wide range of impairments. In general, they are amiable and mild-mannered canines suitable for interacting with people of all ages. Most Boxers are at ease in large and intimate settings, and you can instruct them to move confidently among crowds.

Boxers are an excellent option for many families with children or loud households because of their intelligence and ability to learn a wide variety of jobs, particularly those associated with working as a psychiatric support dog. Because they are so kind and patient, it is doubtful they will become irritated.

Owning a Boxer might be challenging if you do not have a lot of physical mobility and you do not have a way to exercise your dog, especially if the dog is a service dog. They have a lot of energy and will need frequent physical activity to maintain their health.

Border Collie

Border Collies have been working with people for hundreds of years since they have been in use as farm dogs worldwide. They are among the most intelligent dog breeds worldwide, making them an excellent option for handlers who require assistance with various challenging responsibilities.

Border Collies are sweet-tempered dogs that get along well with people of all ages and sizes, including families. Border Collies are generally quite effective at channeling their extra energy toward non-aggressive working behaviors, in contrast to other types of service dogs, which may require work to be happy and stimulated.

You must ensure that you can meet the mental and physical requirements of a Border Collie before you bring one into your home. Because they are highly clever and active canines, they require regular cerebral stimulation and physical activity to be happy.

Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large breed known for being elegant, faithful, and kind. They also adapt well to working in service roles. They are incredibly friendly, have a great desire to please, and are physically capable of assisting their handlers with various physically demanding jobs.

Because of their calm attitude, this breed is well-suited for households with children. They can perform adequately in busy, noisy environments. Bernese Mountain Dogs can learn complex tasks and enjoy cooperation with human handlers. This makes them excellent companions for those with mental support and physical impairments.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Although Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not always the ideal option for occupations that require physical exertion, dogs of this breed tend to be very responsive to the emotional state and requirements of their owners and trainers. It is common practice to train them as psychiatric care dogs to assist with conditions such as PTSD, OCD, depression, and anxiety. Read our article and find out about Separation anxiety in dogs.

King Charles Spaniels are little dogs that people keep as lap dogs. These dogs tend to form strong emotional bonds with their owners and take great pleasure in spending as much time as possible in their company. 

This is an excellent feature for psychiatric service dogs, particularly those who require emotional support in addition to the typical responsibilities of their service dog. They are not as demanding or high-energy as some larger breeds because they are lap dogs and require little exercise.

Golden retriever service dog

How Many Service Dogs Are There?

According to Share America, there are at least 500,000 canines trained to work as support animals in the United States. Following the Americans with Disabilities Act, the term “service dog” refers to a canine companion with the skills to help a person with a disability. But the duties they carry out are as varied as those they assist. 

Service dogs undergo various training forms and do multiple tasks depending on their handlers’ requirements. 

Even though service dogs are not the same as working dogs, all service dogs share several characteristics, including the fact that some people do not consider them “pets” but rather dogs that have critical jobs to perform, as well as the legal right to enter any public spaces (which goes beyond the rights of emotional support animals). 

Observing National Service Dog Month

You can observe this special day by doing the following;

Donating to organizations that involve in the breeding and training of service dogs is a great way to show your gratitude for the work that they do. Your contributions could aid in the expansion of their program in a variety of different ways.

Visit the Service Dogs

Do you admire working dogs and the critical role they play in society? It is time to visit them to convey how much appreciation you have for them at this moment. Don’t leave the house without some delicious dog treats in your bag!

Throw a Party for the Service Dogs

To demonstrate your affection for the puppies, you can arrange a party for the service dogs where all of the dogs can congregate in one location and feast on the foods they enjoy the most. Don’t forget to invite those who live nearby so they may see how much you appreciate their hard work.

What You Didn’t Know About Service Dogs

  • The baggage: Service dogs don’t need to carry any equipment. Hence they do not have any.
  • Locations that are off limits for service dogs: It is not advisable to go with the service dogs to zoos and places of worship.
  • Specific training: Some guide dogs open doors and assist with pulling wheelchairs.
  • Training of service dogs: Exercises designed to stimulate a canine’s neuromuscular system begin when the puppy is just two days old.
  • Dogs that work as service animals in the United States: There are around 500,000 canines who work as service dogs.

The Importance of This Observance

It Appreciates the Efforts of the Dogs

This month is significant because it recognizes the hard work service dogs put into assisting their human companions. The puppies begin their training at a young age. After they get a family, the dogs are responsible for keeping the humans safe.

It Serves to Remind People to Love Them

This month calls attention to all the positive work done by service dogs. It serves as a gentle reminder to people to show love and compassion for the four-legged creatures who assist humans. We must remember and honor these dogs since they are truly selfless.

It Spreads Awareness Regarding How Service Dogs Can Help

This month also raises awareness about how service dogs can assist those with various medical conditions. People who have never had a service dog before can begin to consider acquiring one as a result of this seriously.

Man in wheelchair with service dog

That’s All, Folks

You may be wondering, what do service dogs do? Dogs specifically trained to assist individuals with disabilities are service dogs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that dog owners with disabilities have the right to get assistance from their dogs in performing tasks that are directly related to their handicap. 

This defining characteristic differentiates service dogs from other canines, such as emotional support dogs, working dogs, and psychiatric assistance dogs. It doesn’t matter what breed or size a service dog is, as long as it can perform its job well for its owner. It is feasible to train your dog to work as a service dog for you if you already own one. 

However, adopting a trained service dog is the best option. In addition, the ADA determines that this conduct does not violate any laws. Let us appreciate our service dogs this month without fail.